Echorsis first introduces Christoph (John Lapus), a gay man who has yet to come out to his very conservative parents. But then he meets Carlo (Alex Medina), who appears to be everything he's been looking for in a partner. Love gives Christoph the courage to come out and move into a new house with his newfound partner. Unfortunately, Carlo turns out to be a small time hustler, and is only staying with Christoph to get the money to pay for his upcoming wedding. Alex will soon leave Christoph heartbroken, devastated and contemplating suicide. And the thief soon learns that there is a price to pay for his misdeeds, as he encounters a supernatural force that causes his behavior to change radically.
Echorsis is presented as a twisted take on The Exorcist. It also shares some conceptual DNA with Zombadings, taking the concept of homophobia literally as it applies classic horror elements to the very idea of homosexuality. Along the way, as it explores the consequences of the supernatural transformation, it also comes to study the spiritual struggle that lies at the heart of this country's paradoxical attitudes towards gay people. The movie says and does a bunch of pretty smart things, but it also suffers from structural deficiencies that keep it from being as good as it could be.
As it turns out, this movie isn't about Christoph at all. He and practically all the characters that surround him will disappear somewhere in the middle of the film, leaving some threads dangling as the movie pursues other stories. Once the possession comes into play, the movie becomes a very different thing, and it introduces new characters, conflicts and overall plotlines. Though the film is pretty entertaining from scene to scene, the odd structure makes it a little more difficult to invest in the story and the characters. After spending so much time with Christoph and his friends, it's just strange to abandon them almost completely.
When all is said and done, the story the film ends up telling feels clunkier than it really ought to be. On the way to the ending however, the film gets to explore some really interesting ideas. It shares some really progressive ideas about gender and sexuality. It depicts thoroughly modern attitudes towards relationships, sketching out the difficult economic realities faced by people in love. And it even deigns to address the tricky religious issues that complicate people's attitudes towards homosexuals. The movie pulls no punches in offering its views about this country's treatment of the LGBT community, and the honesty is terribly compelling.
That, and it's pretty funny, too. There is a lot of silliness written into this story, and a very able cast makes that silliness work. The film's odd structure causes John Lupus to disappear for long stretches, but he's pretty great in the scenes that he's in. Alex Medina is clearly having a lot of fun. The actor fully commits to the broadest elements of the role, and he manages to make much of it feel more than just empty jokes. Kean Cipriano is burdened with a role that is much more serious than the rest of the movie, and the actor isn't quite able to pull it off.
Echorsis, despite its many strengths, ends up being quite a mixed experience. It feels longer than it really is; a consequence of the story taking that massive detour somewhere in the middle. It feels like there might have been a more elegant way to tell the same story and deliver the same points. Still, at the end of it all, the film emerges as a subversive little gem; brave enough to say things that aren’t often touched by our cinema, and it does it while being pretty funny. That’s certainly worth something.